Accommodation for International Students in the United States: A Guide

Accommodation for International Students in the United States: A Guide's photoBy Ernest Emeka
Tue Sep 05 2023
Accommodation for International Students in the United States: A Guide

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Every plan to transition smoothly and explore the American experience fell apart for Agnes Osuagwu. She had burned a massive hole in her finances after living in a hotel for three weeks after she came to the United States of America. If she continued living in this fancy hotel in downtown New York, she would end up begging on the street. Desperate, she found a local homestay lacking some basic amenities.

You don't have to struggle like Agnes if you have a good plan for accommodation for students in the USA. Once you come to the United States as an international student, you must have found a place to live. The country has multiple housing options for every budget.

Read: How to Avoid Student Visa Scams

Accommodation for International Students in the United States A Guide

Documents Required for Private Accommodation for International Students Options

·        Provide a high-security deposit without a guarantor

You may have to make a high-security deposit if you don't have a friend or family member who can act as your guarantor. This can cover the payment risk, especially if you cannot pay again.

·        Proof of financial assistance

You can use your scholarship or funds provided by your parents to show that you can make your monthly payments. Additionally, you can use your guardian or parent’s proof of income to get a house.

·        Provide reference letters

International students can use reference letters from past employers, professors, or teachers. Character references show that students can be trusted.

·        Get a co-signer

You can ask a friend, coursemate,  close relative, or family member to co-sign. 

Types of Student Accommodation in the USA

International students can find apartments ranging from private apartments to shared dormitory rooms in the university hall. The room you can select depends on your course, availability of rooms, and budget.

Most international students prefer sharing apartments with others. Whether you want to share a room or live privately, you have many options. The easiest way is to book directly through your university and stay in on-campus accommodation. 

You can use your university's website to share for mixed or single-sex dorms, catered or self-catered, shared or en-suite bathroom facilities, or shared or private bedrooms. 

You will love a shared apartment if you desire to live communally with other people. However, picking a private student apartment gives you the comfort and privacy of bathroom, living space, and kitchen.

Plus, this type of housing is situated off-campus, especially in a student-friendly university suburb. Some universities provide a liaison officer to provide information about the best housing options.

Schools offer you accommodation options, but if you don't want to stay in the hostel, we have listed some smart ways to rent an apartment with no financial background. Students should consider the benefits and disadvantages of using any of them, from homestays to private houses on campus, hotels, apartments, and studios. 

Read: Employment Scam: A Guide for International Students


Accommodation for International Students in the United States: A Guide

Housing options for students in the USA

1.    Residence halls

2.    Self-catered residence halls

3.    Shared apartments

4.    Luxury accommodation

5.    Homestay

Residence Halls: You can choose the residence hall as your preferred type of student accommodation. 

1)    The halls have flats that offer students single or shared rooms.

2)    The rooms come with en-suite bathrooms. 

3)    It offers communal rooms with standard furniture.

4)    Availability of canteens with fixed price 

5)    The communal areas feature T.V. sets, pool tables, and bars.

Self-catered Residence Halls: If you love an independent lifestyle in cheap accommodation for international students’ options, you can consider this option.

1)    It offers adaptability for cooking your meals. 

2)    Availability of communal kitchens.

Shared Apartment: First-year students opt for shared apartments because it allows them to make new friends and adjust to campus life.

1)    Shared apartments are not connected to the universities. 

2)    Presence of tenancy contracts.

Luxury Accommodations:  If you desire a comfortable choice of living, you can consider this option.

1)    The option could either be self-catered apartments or studios. 

2)    Fully furnished with designer fittings and fixtures.

3)    Luxury services like concierge,  24/7 security, 24/7 on-site gymnasiums, and cinema rooms. 

Homestay: If you want safe accommodation for students in the USA, the homestay can be your option.

1.     Students live with US families in their homes. 

2.     Opportunity to experience the culture of the USA

Temporary Accommodation

Students who desire temporary accommodations before they search for accommodation in the USA for international students can consider the following:

  • Hotels
  • Hostels
  • Airbnb:

Temporary accommodation can be more expensive than long-term housing options, with little privacy or convenience.

Read: U.S. Visa Applications Guide for International Students

Things to Know About U.S. Student Housing

  • International students must put down deposits on their new housing ( one month or six weeks of rent). You get back your deposit if you don't destroy anything.
  • The cost of utilities (internet, water, energy costs, cable) will come as extra in private accommodation. In university halls, these extras are included in your monthly rent.
  • You should watch out for additional fees (laundry facilities, parking spaces, or concierge service)
  • You should look for furnished accommodation, or order the furniture and appliances. Therefore, check that amenities such as a washing machine and fridge are included in your housing.
  • University dorms or apartment blocks sometimes provide students access to facilities such as a pool or gym.
  • You should be aware of the safety features in your accommodation, like secure door entry, security personnel, or CCTV in communal areas. 

How to find student housing in the USA?

University housing information: Students can consult their schools for available on-campus or nearby housing options. 

Websites/social media: You can use online resources like social media and websites to find international student housing listings. 

Student advisors: Many students can seek guidance from their advisors for housing options.

Accommodation for International Students in the United States: A Guide

What are the Requirements for Housing for International Students?

1.     Location – You should consider your safety and convenience when attending school and accessing public transportation, grocery stores, and pharmacies.  

2.     Monthly budget – Students should consider the cost of living, like commuting, food, rent, utilities, and other expenses.

3.     Amenities – Consider the availability of a fully equipped kitchen, laundry, air conditioning, high-speed internet,  and other facilities.

4.     Duration of stay – You should consider your period of stay in your accommodation option. 

5.     Roommates: Do you want to live with roommates or alone? Students who wish to live with others should consider habits, personalities, and lifestyles.

6.     Safety and medical help: You should consider the accommodation option’s safety and security measures like security cameras, locked doors, or on-site staff. 

7.     Policies: What are the policies and regulations of the accommodation? Consider noise restrictions, guest policies, lease, move-in and move-out dates, and any penalties for breaking the lease and pet policies. 

8.     Privacy: Student privacy must be considered before picking an accommodation option.


Read: How to get U.S. Social Security Cards for International Students

On-campus vs. off-campus housing

Pros of On-campus Accommodation

Safety: 24/7 surveillance and security guards

Socialization opportunities: Students can easily interact with fellow students and build networking.

Convenient access to amenities: Easy access to computer facilities, library, and dining options.

Save time: Living on campus saves time.

Inclusive expenses: Every expense is paid together.

Participation in on-campus events: School events and activities are more convenient.

Cons of On-campus Accommodation

Higher costs: The option can be costlier compared to living off-campus.

University rules: Students must adhere to the universities’ rules and regulations.

Limited flexibility: On-campus housing agreements offer limiting flexibility in housing choices.

Lack of privacy: It has little or no privacy.

Pros of Off-campus Accommodation

Privacy: It offers more privacy.

Cost-effective: The accommodation option is often cheaper.

Finance management: Students learn and manage their expenses effectively.

Freedom and independence: Students enjoy more freedom and flexibility.

Cultural diversity: The option enhances the study abroad experience.

Cons of Off-campus Accommodation

Time and cost of commuting: Going to campus can be time-consuming and expensive

Limited socialization opportunities: The option may offer fewer opportunities for socialization.

Independent management: Students are responsible for budgeting and managing all expenses.

Additional expenses: Students pay extra fees like electricity, internet, water, food bills,  etc. 

Limited proximity to campus amenities: The distance to campus amenities may be limited.

How to Find the Cheapest Accommodation in the USA?

1.     Spotahome

2.     Homelike

3.     Uniplaces

4.     Nestpick

5.     UniAcco

6.     AmberStudent

Can I Bring Guests to On-Campus Accommodation?

It depends on the institution’s policies. Some schools may allow guests, while others may have restrictions or require prior approval.

Can International Students Rent Off-campus Apartments in the USA?

Yes, international students can rent off-campus apartments in the USA.

Do international students need to purchase their furniture for accommodation in the USA?

 On-campus dormitories provide basic furniture. Off-campus apartments may come partially or fully furnished. Homestays provide furniture and 

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